Sunday, April 19, 2009

spring day musings

It occurred to me that I may not be that much different from my "tween-aged" son. I am always accusing him of not talking enough- of not disclosing his every innermost thought.

Then I remembered that annoying tendency we all have of ourselves possessing the traits for which we criticize others.

Well, I used to talk. When my mother was alive I spoke to her often, with full disclosure of every last aspect of my life, pretty much. And I saw a counselor until a year ago- obviously I talked to her.

I think I've done enough talking during my life. Even though I haven't talked much lately about anything more serious than the next cold front, I seem to be about as mentally healthy as I've ever been.

Is it possible that talking is over-rated?

Yesterday I nearly crashed the car when The Child started telling me, from the back seat, about a book his 5th grade class has been reading. First of all, he was actually initiating conversation, and secondly, this is a child who has done nothing but whine and complain about school since his first day of kindergarten. With complete sincerity, he told me he can't wait to read this book's sequel. (Mind you, this was no super hero book or anything like that- it was historic, written about the Civil War era.) This is the same child who has consistently resisted any and all attempts by me to get him to read books at home. (He couldn't even be bribed with rewards of video games!)

It's always been a mystery how he even learned to read. He resisted my efforts to teach him at home, and I know beyond doubt that he has rarely paid attention to his teachers in school. His kindergarten teacher had told me that he showed up at school one day suddenly and inexplicably knowing how to read at a fairly advanced level. He was soon thereafter placed in the Gifted and Talented program, where he remains to this day.

Unlike his mother, The Child has definitely not fulfilled his talking quota for his age. Yesterday's sudden bout of talking may have been an isolated and historic event.

There was much yardwork to be done this weekend. See the clippings on the ground? This city has stopped free collection of yard waste. I refuse to pay for it- I am already paying very high property taxes and I file city income taxes as well. I just found out that not all city residents file city taxes! Why? Seriously, why? Well, I'll be damned if I'm turning over yet more of my heard-earned money to this city which is constantly cutting back services to its residents.

So I have to figure out what to do with my massive amounts of yard waste. I've been hauling it into the woods near my house at night. Of course, I have to come up with an explanation of my clandestine activities for The Child.

"Why do you do this in the middle of the night if there's nothing wrong with it?"

Good question. I've always quoted football great Woody Hayes, "Nothin' good ever happens after 10 pm." So of course The Child, who grew up hearing that, wants to know why I haul yard waste into the city-owned woods after 10pm.

Some things are hard to explain gracefully and effectively, especially when the explainer feels inexplicable guilt. In nature, "yard waste" is naturally recycled. No city-owned trucks are required for nature's cycle of life. My yard waste is helping the city's woods grow, right?

So why do I insist on doing it in the dark of night, glancing back furtively over my shoulder for possible witnesses to my indescretion, while The Child, shaking his head in disbelief, acts as my lookout?


Lynilu said...

Having been a therapist in my previous (pre-retirement) life, I can confirm, with a chuckle as to the irony of it, that too much talking is certainly overrated. It is good to talk, but at some point, does it become "verbal vomit"? I think so. A nice balance is appreciated by those who listen! But I'm glad the child is now talking a bit. Do you suppose you slowing down of talking has allowed him to find his voice?

On the other hand, remember he is a b.o.y. Males tend to be less verbal, especially with their moms. I'm glad you aren't nagging him to talk and to read. My son will be 45 on Tuesday, and he still doesn't talk much about the "important stuff" to me, but he can be a chatterbox about life's drivel. It is what it is!

The yard waste .... have you considered starting a compost in the back corner of your yard? It would solve your debacle while giving you some excellent natural earth-restoring compost at next to nothing.

Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

Hah! A therapist speculating about verbal vomit! I love it!

I never did do a great deal of talking to the child, except when he was a baby, and he became a very early (and verbose) talker himself, beginning at age 1. But later in his life, I limited myself to talking about only appropriate issues directly related to or beneficial to him. I rarely spoke to him of my issues, unless I thought a simple explanation would somehow benefit him.

My theory on why he opened up yesterday is because I have been trying really hard lately to focus on keeping the connection with him. I think kids tend to slip away from their parents as they grow up, unless effort is made to prevent that. He can become more independent, but I don't want him to shut me out! To many parents don't seem to have any idea what their kids are up to.

I've heard so many stories from friends who compost! The turning thing seems a bit much. I also don't care for worms, and I'm not sure I'd be able to turn the compost with a 10 foot pole!

I know it will take longer for my clippings to biodegrade just being thrown into the woods rather than being placed in a compost pile, but I figure the end result will be similar. The other thing is, there are so many birds around here that use the branches and twigs for nesting. But yes, I did consider composting until I heard about the intensity of the labor involved!


Big Dave T said...

I believe not only talking is overrated but noise itself. I find nothing wrong with turning off the TV, radio, whatever, and just enjoying the quiet. My wife not so much.

Liked this blog until you quoted Woody Hayes. That deserves a retort, or at least an anecdote.

Seems that when Woody Hayes arrived in heaven, God put him in a respectable if somewhat modest home, with an OSU flag planted our front.

Woody didn't mind until he saw this huge mansion, all decorated in maize 'n blue, Michigan banners flying from every precipice. One huge banner proclaimed, "Bo Knows Best."

So a few days later Woody sees God and kinda complains, saying that he (Woody) had won a national championship, and really had a more successful career. So why did Bo Schembechler apparently rate higher.

God smiled and replied. "That's not Bo's house. That's mine."

Betty said...

Oh, Big Dave- you wouldn't dare set foot in this town and tell that joke! You know what would happen, and smoldering sofas would just be the prelude.

I was actually very moved when Bo died. There was an unbelievable amount of media coverage here- it was considered local news!

You know, Woody was dead before I moved here, but I started to realize the extent of his lasting fame when I saw the bobble heads of him for sale in every gas station.....


Lynilu said...

Whatever works for you, Betty! There are ways to do a barrel with aeration holes in it, you can just roll the barrel 3/4 turn every so often. And it doesn't have to be a huge 55 gallon drum. But if you like midnight hikes into the dark, fearsome woods, go for it! LOL!

I'm glad you're talking to him, and you are right on about parents losing the connection. Sad mistake.

Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

The midnight treks are not as bad as I made them sound. The woods are visible from my window- they're only a few steps from my driveway. It's nerve-racking, though, I must admit. I tell myself that I'm giving the Child plenty of memories! I sort of wish my mother had done crazy things like that. Then I'd have more stories to tell about her now!

I'm still thinking about the compost. We'll see.


skoots1mom said...

I bet your son might like worms...hhhhmmmm??
Maybe it would be another way to connect with the dirt and turning time. Just a dd talks to me when we're in the kitchen putting away dishes or clearing the table. I pray she keeps talking...she'll be leaving for college in a couple of years and my time's running out...

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm lucky...My boy has always
talked and talked...It's about
things that are important to him...

With the clippings...You go girl...
You aren't littering...You're
putting back to nature...



Betty said...

Dear Skoots1mom,

I will bring this up with the Child and see if he might be able to view composting as a joint project. That would be great!

It sounds as if you have a good thing going with your daughter and I have no doubt that you will sustain it for the next couple of years.


Betty said...

Dear Laurie,

I have always been amazed about your relationship with the boy. His willingness is part of it, for sure, but he would have shut down by now if it hadn't been for his approval of your response.

Keep up the good work!


shankari said...

I used to be a great one for composting too - till the effort just wore me down :(

I believe that you aren't doing anything wrong - hopefully the Child will learn that even if you are doing it in the dark, it doesnt mean it is a wrong thing.

BTW, you are tagged here:

Waiting to read your take on this.